Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Epic Sock Yarn Bedspread, Sections 2 & 3

I have been lagging in my blogging but not in my crafting.  I made super progress on my sock yarn bedspread this summer, completing two sections before losing momentum in September:

Fiddly intarsia.  Love it.

This section is based on a Kaffe Fassett design.  A nice chance to get rid of some smaller quantities of yarn.  The black yarn was stranded, the colors were intarsia.

Section 4 is in progress, but stalled because the arrival of my twins has made it difficult to put time into complex / big projects.  Maybe when I have family in town who can hold the babies!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sock Therapy

I bought some yarn on impulse.  This is not unusual, for me or for most knitters, I imagine.  I found the perfect pattern for it.  I ordered the complimentary color I would need.  Then I put the whole thing in a ziploc bag and forgot about it.

July seems to be the month when I need to kick-start my crafting bug.  Last year July was Scarf Month, in which I was allowed to cast on as many projects as I wanted as long as they were scarves.

This month, I pulled out my little cheer-me-up package and started as a treat to myself, ignoring the other projects I promised I would get done.

The results were spectacular, both in terms of production and mood benefits!

This pattern is Dark Isle by Julia Mueller.  The yarn is Patons Kroy FX in Clover and Patons Kroy in black.  This was one of those projects that had no lag from start to finish, and I completed them in a week or so.  I had to modify the pattern in a few places: to fit my foot length I added six rows to the wavy pattern of the foot (about a half an inch).  Also since the yardage of this yarn is a bit short, I was worried about running out of black, so I took six rows out of the topmost pattern of the cuff, and bound off a few rows early.

This was my first stranded colorwork project.  I used a knitting thimble to manage my colors.  A great pattern for a first-timer - the charts were simple, the pattern itself was well-written, and the sizing was adjusted in all the right places to accommodate the firmer fabric of stranded work.  I do think that the foot portion of the sock was pretty snug on my narrow feet; I would imagine many people would need four or eight stitches added to the round of the foot for a better fit.

When making striped socks, I usually put the end of round at the inseam, but this pattern calls for it at the back of the sock, meaning that the contrasting color would normally be cut and restarted after the heel.  Rather than making the afterthought heel from the pattern, I decided to use my favorite short-row heel, and just to be sassy and save myself two ends to weave in, I experimented with stranding up the back of the heel as well.  It was a little fiddly but very fun and satisfying!

Now I just need to wait for winter so I can wear them!

The Epic Sock Yarn Bedspread, Section 1

That is, Section 1 is complete.  It is just my own Stained Glass Magic pattern, which I published on Ravelry over a year ago.  Still finding new uses for it.

Section 2 is going well - messy intarsia!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sock Yarn Blankies for Thing 1 / Thing 2

My baby crafting goals included two baby blankies for my upcoming twins. I started one immediately after learning I was pregnant, with sock yarn leftovers, and quickly depleted my supply of scraps. I appealed to my knitting guild and a few groups on Ravelry for help, and was simply overwhelmed with the generous response. Packages started arriving, a few people showed up at my door with scraps, and all of a sudden I was in over my head. I had a terrific time crocheting up two different designs, and they are done.

(I was particularly glad to finish these before I was sidelined with carpal tunnel syndrome, which took me out of the knitting/crochet game for the last three months of my last pregnancy.)

The end result is that I now have 2400 grams (grams! not yards!) of lovingly donated sock yarn scraps to play with.  In case you were wondering, this is what 2400 grams of sock yarn looks like.

With a little bit of egging-on from my mother, I have decided to transform these into a bedspread for my older daughter, who, according to her grandmother, will feel left out.  (My daughter is getting roller skates for her birthday so it is unlikely she will acknowledge any other gifts presented to her during the entire of the fall and winter.  But we do these things for love, and she'll eventually outgrow the skates but have an heirloom blanket to abuse as a teenager.)

Since she just moved into a twin bed, I planned to make her bedspread 66" x 90" according to this online list of afghan and blanket sizes, but as I was getting started, I decided 66" was way too wide and shortened it to 54".  After one row of pattern, it became clear that even this was way too wide so I will be frogging and starting completely afresh today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Cosmic Joke

I posted last month that I was having a really tough time with Second Sock Syndrome.  I had three beautiful socks done, and no interest in casting on any of their mates.  One weekend I decided to give myself a break and knit a Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap.  That way, I'd get my sock yarn fix but make something that didn't come in a pair.  Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant with twins.  I am not kidding.

So, ironically, I ended up making a pair of hats too.  And all the baby knitting I was planning, I'm making two of everything now.  Here's my baby knitting checklist:

2 Norwegian Sweet Baby Caps - done
2 Pepitas  - may machine-knit most of these
2 Das Monster pants - can't decide whether to use sock yarn or heavier for older babies
2 baby blankies - one half-done

Deadline is the end of September, though with my last pregnancy I had such bad carpal tunnel syndrome in the third trimester that I couldn't crochet at all, so the sooner I get these done the better!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sock Lab Experiments, Round 1 is complete

Finally finished the second Rainbow Sock this week:

Knitting the first sock went fine.  For the second sock, I decided to do toe-up just to keep things interesting... but since I had waited so long between socks #1 and #2, I forgot an important part of the pattern and inadvertently skipped two rows for every pattern repeat, or, by the time I'd gotten to the heel, sixteen rows.  Fail.  Frogged it and took my sweet time starting it over.  When I did, I got to the heel and stalled again.  This weekend I finally busted it out and finished sock #2.  The second sock is slightly shorter in the foot because my toe when I do a toe-up sock is fewer rows than when I do decreases top-down.  I haven't done the math yet to figure out why this is so, but it sure looked like the toe on the second sock is about 1/2" shorter.

I enjoyed this pattern for the first sock, especially because the yarn I dyed for the pattern looked exactly the way I wanted.   But doing two and a half socks with this pattern got to be a drag.  Glad I finished them, love how they look and fit, don't need to do them again.

Also I realized that I really should learn to do short rows in a way that is a little neater, especially when I am working in striped yarn.  If you look close-up, you can see that the ends of my short rows are marked with little prickles.  This is because instead of wrapping a stitch before I turn, I k2tog over the gap when I come back, and then do a lifted increase.  This lifted increase pulls the color from the row below into the current row, making the little spikey shapes.  I usually slip the first stitch of a short row after I turn, but I stopped doing that to see if it was contributing to the prickliness.  I need to do it better when I start my Lizard Ridge Afghan.

Next on deck in the sock laboratory, the famous Skew.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monster Socks

After hoarding sock yarn scraps for months and months, I finally made my first pair of scrappy monster socks.  My husband claimed all the black/black stripes yarn in the scraps box, and away I went.  I wanted to use striped yarn for the heel, but I wanted a bullseye effect so I tried an afterthought heel for the first time.  I made up a sort of whirlpool heel that I'm not happy with - J showed me that the socks keep slipping over his heel, and one heel has one row too many in the center and has a funny little flap at the bottom.  After they come out of the wash I planned to take the heels apart and redo.

But after a few wearings, my husband told me the heel stretched out fine and the little flap of extra rows at the very base of the heel had resolved.  Apparently he loves wearing his odd socks with suits and deliberately showing them off during the work day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sock Monogamy

This week marks my two-year knitting birthday!  In March 2008 my friend Jessica sat me down and showed me the basics, and I've been off and running since then.

Having some issues with sock monogamy lately, also known as second sock syndrome:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sock Wars Update

I am, remarkably, still alive after 5 weeks.  Of the original 203 warriors, the official count is 39 left standing as of this evening.  I have logged four kills, with the fifth launched Saturday and arriving at my victim's home any day.  I am amassing a great little collection of leftovers from each pair of death socks, which will become a pair of souvenir socks for myself when I do finally meet my warm woolly death.

Sock Wars homepage
An outsider's view of Sock Wars

Sock Lab - Let the Experiments Begin!

I believe that people tend to fall on a spectrum between color and texture.  I am definitely far, far on the color end.  What that means, in terms of socks, is that I buy a lot of crazy patterned sock yarn.  But I have learned (the hard way) that the crazier the yarn is, the simpler the pattern has to be.  So I make plain old stockinette socks that show off my yarn really nicely, but bore me to tears.

To combat ennui, I decided this weekend to suss out as many unusual sock constructions as I could find.  So far I have a good list of patterns to try, all with unique or atypical geometry:
Rainbow Socks
Target Practice
Hat Heels
Vice Versa

I cast on a pair of Rainbow Socks this weekend, and so far I am really happy with the look.  I dyed the yarn especially for this pattern, after trying it with different yarn and frogging when I didn't like the patterning.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sock Wars V: Between Missions

Sock Wars is almost three weeks old, and I am still alive.  I have made four kills, the last being a target in Canada whose socks were put in the mail this morning.  After the initial intense rush to finish that first and second pair, there have been periods of waiting for the next socks-in-progress to arrive in the mail.  I now have this nagging feeling when I am between missions, like there's something I'm supposed to do that I've forgotten about.  And I find that I miss having a sock to work on.  To counteract this, I started a series of four socks which can pair up multiple ways.

This is fun yarn that I dyed myself.  I knit up two long blanks, each long enough for a full pair of socks.  I did a color wheel exercise: mixed red, yellow, and blue dye, and made dye mixes that were gradations in between each (so 25% red/75% blue, 50% red/50% blue, 75% red/25% blue, and so forth).  I ended up with twelve shades that made a lovely rainbow when blended from end to end. 

After the blanks were dyed, rinsed, and dried, I pulled them apart and skeined them into a loop that was ten armlengths around.  Since one armlength is about one round of sock knitting, this represents ten rounds.  Dyed half of the loop black, and presto!  Self-striping yarn.

The only problem is that I had some yarn left over when I made my first pair, so there was no red or purple in the mix.  I decided to solve the problem by making a second pair of socks that start with red and purple (but probably won't have much yellow and green in the mix).  They can be matched any which way because all four socks will be fraternal twins, but there won't be an identical pair in the bunch.  I've done two so far and I'm casting on a third tonight.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sock Wars V

Sometime in December: dyed some yarn by throwing all the leftover red dye (four shades) into one pot, ended up with pretty kettled-dyed yarn, thought to myself "hm, looks like bloodstains, better save it for Sock Wars."
Jan. 1-14: made a pair of Barcelonas to train up.  First top-down sock, first heel flap, first Kitchener stitch.  Adjusted the pattern for magic loop, felt very pleased with myself.
Jan. 9: received dossier on target via email.  She requests red - hooray! - which means I have my yarn all ready.
Jan. 13: swatched, determined that 2.5 mm needles would give me required gauge of 8 sts/in.
Jan. 15, 2 PM: folded all the laundry, did the dishes
Jan. 15, 4 PM: showered
Jan. 15, 4:15 PM: took the toddler to the corner store and bought supplies (oreos, candy, coke)
Jan. 15, 5 PM: Sock Wars V begins!  Patterns released.  Parked toddler in front of the television and started two different patterns before selecting Don't Box Me In.

Jan. 15-16: worked incessantly on death socks, including all-nighter Friday night.  Finished socks Saturday night.
Jan. 17: drove 96 miles in pouring rain to deliver death socks to target, came home with her socks-in-progress.  Kill #1accomplished.  Napped.  Worked on death socks for target #2.
Jan. 19: finished death socks for target #2.
Jan. 20: mailed death socks to Illinois.
Jan. 22: death socks received in Illinois.  Kill #2 accomplished.
Jan. 23: received word that Kill #2's target in Colorado mailed her socks-in-progress to me.

And here I wait.  I expect I may get death socks in the mail from my assassin in New York at any time.  She seems to be the silent stealthy type.  Target #3 is located in Washington.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Flashing Socks

Pooling and flashing are terms used to refer to blobs or streaks of color that appear when variegated yarn is worked up.  Usually I love to see yarn asserting its independence and getting all rambunctious on me, but as a yarn dyer I needed to better understand when pooling happens so I can control it.

My first foray into an experiencial investigation.  When I was knitting Christmas socks, I calculated that it takes roughly an inch of yarn to make two stitches in stockinette.  I have also used the rule of thumb that one armlength of yarn makes a row of sock knitting.  My armlength is about 28", and my socks are usually 60 stitches around, so this jives pretty well.

My plan was to dye a skein of sock yarn with a 30" repeat, aiming to make a pattern repeat that would correspond to a row of sock knitting.  Since it is hard to wind 420 yards of sock yarn into a 30" hank (the hank gets so fat that the yarn wound toward the end of the skein has a slightly longer diameter than the yarn would at the beginning of the skein), I settled for a 60" hank dyed in two pattern repeats.  This is what my yarn looked like dyed up:

Each section of yarn is as close to 10 inches as I could get.  I used tight ties between the colors to minimize bleeding, thinking that if there were little undyed sections in between then would serve to emphasize the boundaries between the colors.

(The green dye needed to sit for longer before being used - it separated at at the ends which is why you see turquoise there.)

If everything were perfect and consistent, I would end up with socks that had three vertical columns, one of each color.  More likely, I thought, would be slow spirally indicating that my pattern repeat is slightly longer or shorter than one round of sock knitting.

I've only knitted up one sock so far but here's how it came out:
Since the rounds at the toe are shorter than the rounds for the body of the sock, the pooling pattern doesn't establish itself until the end of the toe when each round is 60 stitches.

(Details: base yarn is Kraemer Jeannie sock yarn, dyes are Jacquard acid dyes in sapphire, emerald, and silver gray, sock was knitted toe-up on 2.5mm/size US 1.5 needles at 60 stitches per round.  The short-row heel was worked with yarn from the free end of the skein so the pooling pattern would not be disrupted.)

As I was working, spiraling to the left would indicate that my pattern repeat is slightly longer than a round of knitting; spiraling to the right would be caused by my pattern repeat being too short.  In this photo the sock is orientated upside-down so spiraling to the right means my pattern repeat was slightly too long.  (Edited three months later - I just read a post on Ravelry that points out that spiraling looks the same upside-down, so what I wrote above is totally wrong.   Spiraling to the right means that my pattern repeat was too short.  If you look at my picture upside-down, the green part still travels from upper left to lower right.  How embarrassing.)

<---My favorite part is right here when the spiraling reverses itself.  When I winding my hank the chairs must have skidded closer together, shortening the diameter of the hank for the rest of the skein.  I'm fairly certain the second sock will not do this.

Moral of the story:  if you want to avoid pooling when making something in the round, you need to figure out how many inches of yarn are needed to make a complete round in your project.  Also you need to measure the length of a pattern repeat in your yarn.  This is the length of the hank the dyer wound the yarn in before dyeing.  If your pattern repeat is the same as the length of yarn for a round, or if the pattern repeat length divides evenly into your one-round length, or if it's close, you will have pooling.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best Christmas Present Ever

My dad made me a swift for Christmas.  He dismantled an excellence award he got at work in 2004 (left the plaque on the base - nice touch!), made the rest in his woodshop and stained it all to match.  It's just beautiful!  I never really needed one until recently, since I mostly use yarns that come in pull-skeins, but as I'm experimenting with different sock yarns to use as a base (for my eventual Etsy store!) I have had to deal with hanks of yarn more and more often.  It was tremendous fun setting the swift up in the living room and skeining off all the hanks I had lying around.  And very satisfying to have said skeins come out in perfectly tensioned little yarn cakes!

(In case you'd like to make one of your own, or drop a hint to your own dad or favorite handyman, this is where he got the recipe.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Yarn-related New Year Resolutions

1) I will make my first sweater
2) I will start (if not finish) the Lizard Ridge afghan
3) I will use more sock yarn than I buy
4) I will get a resale license so I can set up an Etsy shop for my hand-dyed sock yarn
5) I will get through Sock Wars V without embarrassing myself.